By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor
Ever read the book, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas?"
It you have, you know how the story ends up. The mean, bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling Grinch's heart grows three-times larger as he casts aside his hateful ways and celebrates Christmas with the residents of Whoville.
If your read between the lines, chances are the Grinch was grouchy about the over-commercialization of Christmas and advocated a return to the more generous ways of past years.
"Maybe Christmas," (the Grinch thought), "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more."
Even the most giving of us can get a little Grinch-like during this time of year. So there's at least two easy ways of making up for that grouchiness by giving to the new Cannon County shelter for battered wives or by helping to fill a wish on the S.A.V.E. Angel Tree.
To many, the new shelter is an answer to years of prayer.
"Lisa (Baird) has been working with S.A.V.E. since 2008, but we've never had a place for the victims of domestic violence to go in Cannon County," said Chris Anderson, general manager of Crane Interiors. Anderson, as chairman of the S.A.V.E. Board, has been leading an ongoing effort to create a shelter in Woodbury.
S.A.V.E. Is a not-for-profit agency geared toward stopping the spread of domestic and sexual battery in Cannon County.
Currently, Baird is the only employee of S.A.V.E. which maintains a tiny little office near the Square in Woodbury. She answers all domestic violence calls with the Woodbury Police and Cannon County Sheriff's Office and explains the victims' rights and what services are available, Anderson said.
"We've tried to get a shelter for seven years," Baird explained. "S.A.V.E. Is the only domestic violence program in Cannon County and we've been involved in a Catch-22. We tried in vain to open a shelter here."
But the energetic Lisa didn't give up her quest even after a plan was rejected by the Christy-Houston Fund in Murfreesboro. "We made a presentation to them and they were so sympathetic but they couldn't help us because we aren't located in Rutherford County."
Recently, she took her presentation to the air.
"I happened to be on the radio, WGNS, and I took one of our ladies with me to discuss the dynamics of domestic violence," Baird said. "When I got back to my vehicle I had four missed calls."
"I called back without even checking who the calls had come from. It was a sweet man who wanted to help. His wife had just passed away from cancer. He wanted me to call him back in a few days," she said.
"I called him back to invite him to a board meeting and he informed me what he was doing," she said.
The anonymous benefactor was buying a building that would serve as a home for Cannon County S.A.V.E.'s new shelter.
For once, the talkative Baird was silent. "I was in shock ... disbelief at first," she said. "It just touched my heart."
The benefactor has since purchased the building and handed the keys over to S.A.V.E.
The anonymous man made the presentation in honor of his late wife, Anderson said, who has been busy making arrangements for water, electricity and other operational costs.
"I don't think he realizes the magnitude of what he's done," Baird said. "It was such a shock and such a blessing."
Baird has been working long and hard to get S.A.V.E. established in Cannon County. She joined the agency on July 1, 2008.
"By the grace of God and the hard work of our volunteers, we got the doors open," she said.
Most people did not realize the importance of having a shelter in Cannon County. Domestic violence comes in cycle form. "They need help to get out of that."
In most cases the victims of domestic violence have children and no car, no income. They don't have a place to go, so many of them are homeless. If they do leave, they will be hounded by their spouse,
"When a victim walks out that door their chance of dying increases to 75 percent," Baird said.
That statistic comes in spite of the excellent work by the Woodbury Police, Cannon County Sheriff's Department and the 911 center," she said. "They are a blessing for us and the people we serve," but the officers can't stay with the victims of domestic violence. Even if the spouse is arrested and convicted, he will be coming back home.
Many of the victims of spousal abuse end up volunteering with S.A.V.E. The Cannon County School System helps too, along with many local churches. "I've got to commend them," she said.
That need for help will continue once the new shelter is open.
"We need staff. We need everything that's necessary to run a household, but God's gonna take care of that," Baird said.